Saving lives with the right antibiotic

Diagnostic platform with dispense heads and handling gantries

Until now, it used to take two to four days to find out which antibiotic in which dosage would work to combat a patient's infection. A new diagnostic platform finds the appropriate preparation within 24 hours. Included: dispense heads and gantries from Festo.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is one of the world's deadliest and costliest health threats, according to a US Department of Health and Human Services agency. This is promoted, among others, by doctors overprescribing the most widely acting, broad-spectrum antibiotics for days. Every time these powerful antibiotics are used, the bacteria have a chance to develop resistance to them.

One reason for this is that diagnostic tests used to personalise antibiotic therapy typically take three or more days to complete. To combat the crisis, we must maximise the speed with which precision therapies can be prescribed.

With an innovative technology developed by the start-up Selux Diagnostics, this time is reduced to less than 24 hours, and for 99% of cases even to five hours. As a result, physicians are able to prescribe the optimal treatment three to five days earlier, reducing hospital stays and breaking the cycle of antibiotic overuse and resistance.

Up to 50 antibiotics on the test bench at the same time

The solution from Selux is a so-called next-generation phenotyping (NGP) platform. Phenotyping in this context refers to the process that provides complete insights into which therapies can effectively treat a patient's infection.

The patient's blood plasma or other samples containing the bacterium are mixed with the various antibiotics on the NPG platform. Using 384-well microplates, the system has the capacity to test current as well as future drugs. The results of the comprehensive analysis are sent to a database. An algorithm checks each dilution of the antibiotic and analyses which drug and at which dosage provides the best response.

Festo dispense heads and gantries in action

Several dispense heads and handling gantries from Festo are installed in the system. With dispense heads VTOE and VTOI, precise dosing in the microlitre range can be achieved. This improves throughput and guarantees reliability and accuracy. The valve control module VAEM makes it possible to precisely control the dispense heads.

The NPG platform also includes the handling gantry EXCM-30, which moves microwell plates and transfers them. The rotary gripping module EHMD grips and rotates the vials and opens or closes the lids. This makes it ideal for handling patient samples.